Back to School with Money and Masks

Back to School with Money and Masks

As the start of the 2021-2022 school year approached in August, school superintendents were focused on active learning, engagement and building deep connections, but found that COVID-19 continued to impact schools.

The U.S. Department of Education laid out a reopening schools roadmap to help states and districts get students back into schools safely and productively. States and school districts, for the most part, built reopening plans around in-person schooling.

Then the Delta variant took hold. The Pickens County (SC) school district, for instance, opened for in-person schooling in mid-August. Within days, district schools were closed for a week amid rising COVID cases. Elsewhere in the country, as Delta spread, schools remained open though fewer children showed up.

There was expectation as well among providers of instructional materials that in-school learning would resume, but that the experience of using technology for learning would lead to greater incorporation of technology tools in the process of learning in the classroom.

Congress provided $130 billion for K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of K-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Education made distribution of the ARP ESSER funds part of the department’s broader effort to support districts as they work to reengage students impacted by the pandemic, address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and improve the nation’s education system. There will be more spending in schools over the next few years as states and districts spend the influx of federal money.

How significantly education in the U.S. will change remains to be seen. Enrollment is expected to merely inch up. Testing is undergoing change though measurement of student progress in some manner is still widely viewed as critical.

Instructional materials are rapidly adapting to more digital delivery. Moving forward, several education experts expect to see formalization of elearning as part of the academic experience, and to make it both intentional and prescriptive. With more time to plan, there are expectations that more of the core curriculum will include online engagement.

In its newly released report, Publishing for the PreK-12 Market, 2021-2022, Simba Information projects that PreK-12 instructional materials industry sales will generate $9.31 billion in 2021 and reach $10.22 billion in 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3% from 2020 to 2024.